Some knucklehead in the kingdom across the pond needs lessons in sensitivity, history and “kommon sense;” they probably also need a new job. Someone billed a Kripsy Kreme event for kids as “KKK Wednesday.”
Kripsy Kreme in the United Kingdom had stores develop “Half Term Activities for children in the middle of the school day. Some were innocent with face painting, balloons or board games. They were promoted in the stores and on the Krispy Kreme UK’s Facebook page. However, one store in Hull apparently trying to establish Krispy Kreme Klub Wednesdays promoted the event as KKK Wednesdays, clearly not realizing the attention and denigration it would receive.
The whimsical spelling of Krispy Kreme, which reflects its folksy, Southern U.S. roots, has often encouraged plays on the letter “K,” with deliberate misspellings like in the company name. But, some sensitivity to audience interpretations deserves consideration (for example, the swastika existed long before being adopted by the Nazis, but it creates an understandably negative impression now in many countries.). The same with the initials KKK, which has long referred to the Ku Klux Klan and anti-Black violence since the post-Civil War period in the U.S.
The KKK meaning may have been lost on whoever created the promotion and approved it. But the abbreviation was understood to suggest Ku Klux Klan for countless people who commented on social media in England. (Furthermore, acronyms only work when people know what they stand for. Krispy Kreme Klub is not what most people think of when they see KKK.)
Social media ate up the doughnut chain’s public relations fiasco. On the company’s Facebook page, one person posted a picture of a klansman in a hood with the caption “Those are my favorite kind of donuts!” Another commented that “Everyone knows the best doughnuts are made with white flour… White flour! White flour! White flour!”
Twitter was also lighting up with comments. One person tweeted Krispy Kreme UK, “I think someone needs to go teach your Hull branch workers a history lesson or two!” Another pointed out that the KKK Wednesday followed “coloring Tuesday.”
While maintaining that the insensitive error was just at the Hull store, the sign was also on the Krispy Kreme UK Facebook page. The company removed the promotional sign and issued an apology stating they they were sorry “for the inappropriate name of a customer promotion at one of our stores.” The posting said that they were “sorry for any offense this completely unintentional oversight may have caused.”
The Krispy Kreme message went on to report that the promotional material, both in the store and online, was removed and the company is taking steps to ensure that greater precautions are taken in the future with publicity materials. One can assume that the doughnut chain will be “educating” stores on diversity and respect (as well as how to name events).
On Twitter, they developed a response to the critical tweets. They tweeted, “We apologize unreservedly for the inappropriate name.” The company also said, “It was never intended to offend anyone.”
Founded in North Carolina in 1937, Krispy Kreme has stores in countries around the globe. Krispy Kreme expanded into the UK in 2003, with their first store there inside Harrods department store in London. Since then, they have expanded widely with stores, kiosks and packaged doughnuts at other venues. Krispy Kreme clearly did not intend to expand into a kids events billed as KKK gatherings.
By Dyanne Weiss